Original Research

Hell: Educationally in post-secular societies

Walter Firth
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 44, No 1 | a2759 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v44i1.2759 | © 2023 Walter Firth | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 27 October 2022 | Published: 04 April 2023

About the author(s)

Walter Firth, Department of Old Testament and Hebrew Scriptures, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa; and, Department of Practical Theology and Missiology, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


Many countries around the world, including Australia, have secularism expressed in their identity. However, as these secular nations (as they understand themselves) shift into post-secular societies, it raises questions around the place and content of religious education and instruction in secular settings: particularly in regard to the shadow side of theological views, such as on the matter of hell. Acknowledging the valuable contribution religious education offers by providing a space for children to question and search for meaning, how or indeed should hell be taught to children in public (secular) schools?

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: In the context of the secular and/or non-religious public reflex in society, there is a tension on the place of religious thought in secular educational settings. As scrutiny increases of what, and how, religious material is shared and taught, especially to children, the role and place of hell in this space must be reviewed. This study provides a basis for Practical Theology in post-secular societies, utilising the Australian context, to do so.


hell; religious education; post-secular; spiritual abuse; spirituality.


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